JONAH ordered out of existence

Timothy Kincaid

December 18th, 2015

jonah logoIn 2000, Arthur Goldberg (a felon convicted of fraudulent financial dealings) founded Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH, now renamed Jews offering New Alternatives to Healing). As most other ex-gay organizations had a strong evangelical Christian emphasis, JONAH provided a place for same-sex attracted Jews to rediscover their heterosexuality in a space that was respectful of their religious and cultural heritage.

But, as was the case with the Christian ex-gay groups, they failed. It turns out that Jews are no more likely to be counseled into changing their sexual orientation than are evangelical Christian.

In 2013 a number of former clients of JONAH filed a lawsuit against JONAH, Arthur Goldberg, and counselor Alan Downing claiming that they had fraudulently offered services and made promises that they could not fulfill (in addition to some really creepy “therapy” techniques). After significant testimony and consideration, on June 25, 2015 the jury unanimously determined that consumer fraud had been committed and that JOHAH was liable for $72,400.

Today Judge Peter Bariso of the Superior Court of New Jersey has entered his order. It could not be worse for JONAH, Goldberg, and Downing:

1. JONAH, Inc. shall permanently cease any and all operations within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Order, including its educational functions, its provision of referrals and/or direct services, and operation of its websites and listservs, which it shall cause to be taken offline, provided however that it shall be permitted to maintain use of “” email addresses, only for those purposes not prohibited by this Order, for one hundred eighty (180) days from the entry of this Order;

2. JONAH, Inc. shall permanently dissolve as a corporate entity and liquidate all its assets, tangible or intangible, within one hundred eighty (180) days of the entry of this Order;

3. As of the date of this Order, pursuant to the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. §§ 56:8-1, et seq., Defendants are permanently enjoined from engaging, whether directly or through referrals, in any therapy, counseling, treatment or activity that has the goal of changing, affecting or influencing sexual orientation, “same sex attraction” or “gender wholeness,” or any other equivalent term, whether referred to as “conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy,” “gender affirming processes” or any other equivalent term (“Conversion Therapy”), or advertising, or promoting Conversion Therapy or Conversion Therapy-related commerce in or directed at New Jersey or New Jersey residents (whether in person or remotely, individually or in groups, including via telephone, Skype, email, online services or any delivery medium that may be introduced in the future, and including the provision of referrals to providers, advertisers, promoters, or advocates of the same), provided however that Alan Downing shall have thirty (30) days from the date of the entry of this Order to cease the provision of Conversion Therapy to his current clients;

4. Plaintiffs’ counsel is awarded attorneys’ fees and expenses in the amount of three million five hundred thousand U.S. dollars ($3,500,000) to be paid by Defendants (the “Fee Award”) within such time as mutually agreed upon by the Parties. Plaintiffs shall submit to this Court a notice of satisfaction upon Defendants’ payment of the Fee Award.

[emphasis added]

So one more ex-gay group is gone.

Ben in Oakland

December 18th, 2015

Great news! But what else could one expect from a “healing” group that offers alternatives TO healing? Shame, depletion of your bank account, self hatred? They are indeed alternatives.

Question: can the Judge make his order extend beyond NJ? What is to stop them from moving across the Hudson, as long as they neither step foot, “practice”, or advertise in NJ?


December 18th, 2015

And in Philadelphia, Kathryn Knott was convicted on at least some of the charges resulting from a vicious attack on two gay men last year. It is a good Friday indeed!

Ben in Oakland – in answer to your question I believe this was a state court, so its jurisdiction couldn’t extend beyond New Jersey. However, I presume that this court ruling and the trial result from last summer would be sufficient for any other state to refuse Goldberg the licenses he would need to found a similar organization in another state. Certainly LGBT advocates would be all over him like white on rice if he tried.

Eric Payne

December 18th, 2015

Can this order would withstand appeal, as the judge has, apparently, ordered out of business what is, at least in name, a religious organization/business?

I can see where he could order JONAH not to attach mandatory fees to their “services,” but to actually close them down? That seems far-reaching.

Ben in Oakland

December 18th, 2015

BTW, Timothy.


Timothy Kincaid

December 18th, 2015

Thanks, Ben. Fixed.

Eric Payne

December 18th, 2015

Joe, over at Joe.My.God is stating JONAH agreed to the judge’s ruling.

Anyone hear otherwise? If JONAH agreed to close up shop and abide by the judge’s order, that’s great!

Next target: NARTH.


December 18th, 2015

I don’t see how this is constitutional. I’m all for banning “conversion” therapy for children, but adults have a God-given American right to throw their money away.


December 19th, 2015


Essentially such groups are committing fraud.

Priya Lynn

December 19th, 2015

Right Stefan. Adults have a right to throw their money away but they don’t have a right to defraud others.

Regan DuCasse

December 19th, 2015

I thought NJ and CA were the only states that had legislation that outlawed such ex gay therapy and practices?
Even if this court is a local one, the state has made it unlawful for at least MINORS to be engaged in such practices.

Unfortunately, other states aren’t so invested.
I’m hoping that with the advent of marriage equality, and more safe spaces for gay young people like GLSEN, PFLAG and GSA’s, these ‘therapies’ won’t be accessed by families with gay youngsters.
Acceptance becoming widespread will hopefully make these practitioners unwanted and uninvited.
Chris O’Whatsisname, hasn’t been to vocal, if not active lately.

enough already

December 19th, 2015

Well, this is good news, indeed.
I’d be more in favor of torturing the psychologists who commit these atrocities upon gay men to death with the same methods they use.
Still it’s a step forward.

Ben in oakland

December 19th, 2015


C’mon!!! Do you REALLY think that 500 volts to the balls for George Rekers will work?

Ok, we can try it. For as often and as long as necessary.

and if it doesn’t work, we should up it to 1000 volts and throw in a little prayer to Jesus.


December 21st, 2015

Eric, by definition, JONAH was a for-profit incorporated entity. Of course this can be shut down. If JONAH had been a non-profit religious ministry and had not made statements that the therapy it offered was effective from a medical/scientific standpoint, it would be able to offer its wares as spiritual counselling.

Timothy Kincaid

December 21st, 2015

Nancy, I believe that JONAH is registered as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

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